Judge sets temporary stipulation for gold mining on Mount Tenabo


By Lisa J. Wolf, Censored News – http://www.bsnorrel l.blogspot. com/

Date of publication: 
11 December 2008

Roger Flynn, attorney for the Western Shoshone and allies seeking to
stop Barrick’s Cortez Hills Project, reported at 5:50 p.m. Thursday,
December 11th that minutes earlier a Joint Stipulation “between the
parties” was “filed with the court,” before Judge Larry R. Hicks and
Magistrate Judge Robert A. McCaid of the U.S. District Court for
Nevada, regarding “what work can and cannot be done in this interim
period before the court issues its decision on plaintiffs’ motion for
a preliminary injunction.” Flynn advised, “The hearing will be
sometime during the week of January 20th.”

Flynn noted, “The Stipulation allows some site preparation work to
begin, but none of the major mine facilities such as the Cortez Hills
Pit, the waste dumps, and cyanide heap leaching facility. The
Stipulation recognizes the ability of Western Shoshone plaintiffs to
continue to access and use the lands for religious and cultural
purposes, as long as people do not interfere with Cortez’s operations
allowed in the Stipulation. “

While the suit initially named the U.S. Department of the Interior
and the BLM as plaintiffs, Barrick Cortez intervened and joined the
suit as a defendant, represented by Michael R. McCarthy, Jim B.
Butler, Francis M. Wikstrom, and Michael L. Larsen of Parsons Behle &

According to the Stipulation, “Cortez may relocate the power
transmission lines” on the “upper pediment area (to remove the
existing line from its current location) and lower down the hill (to
install the new power line).” In addition, Cortez may “relocate the
existing county road to the new location” so long as “public
motorized travel on County Road 222 between Crescent Valley and Grass
Valley shall remain open, subject to reasonable construction and
maintenance delays, not to exceed 20 minutes” and can “extend the
haul road to connect the crusher pad with the existing haul road.”

Cortez may also “perform site preparation and construction activities
at the site of the crusher facility,” the “truck shop” and “conveyor”
and can “continue archaeological clearance work throughout the
Project area.” Cortez is also being permitted to “perform underground
mining operations generally, including as previously permitted under
Cortez’s separate permit and exploration plan of operations as well
as the BLM’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (“FEIS”) and Record
of Decision (“ROD”) at issue in this case.”

However, Cortez must “remove the water lines, tanks, and trucks
presently located for dust
suppression purposes north of the boundary of the heap leach
facility” during “the term of this Stipulation. “

Cortez can continue to “access any and all areas within the Cortez
Hills Project area and perform
any and all work previously permitted and authorized separate and
apart from the FEIS and ROD at issue in this case. In other words,
nothing herein shall be construed to limit the work and activities of
the Barrick entities which is authorized under pre-existing permits
and approvals. Cortez has received permits and approvals, other than
the FEIS and ROD plaintiffs are presently challenging in this case,
for exploration and other activities for the Cortez Hills Project.
For example, Cortez has received permits and approvals to install
instrumented drill holes and storm water control features under a
separate permit and exploration plan of operations. Thus, such
previously permitted work will be permitted to continue and not be
affected by this Stipulation. “

The Stipulation also provides that “Cortez will temporarily suspend
the following activities permitted by the FEIS and ROD in this case”
and will “not cut trees, begin mining, or conduct further activities
permitted by the ROD in this case, in the approximately 835 acres
comprising the Cortez Hills Project pit area.”

The Stipulation specifies, “Cortez, however, will be allowed to
disturb the pit area to the extent required to move the power
transmission line, construct the haul road, or perform previously
permitted work,” but “will not perform site preparation, construction
work, or conduct further activities permitted by the ROD in this
case, in the approximately 1,936 acres comprising the Cortez Hills
Project waste rock dumps” or “on the approximately 328 acres
comprising the Cortez Hills Project leach pad;” and “will not perform
any work or other activities within a radius of 200 yards of the
water monitoring well PD-03 that is located just north of the C area
and will not impede plaintiffs’ access to and use of this area.”

This includes the site of the Western Shoshone sweat lodge and fire
pit, which had been blocked and disturbed by Barrick Cortez shortly
after Thanksgiving.

The document further states that “the parties agree that in light of
this Stipulation, plaintiffs’ motion for a temporary restraining
order” is “moot.”

The Stipulation specifies that “Plaintiffs are not required to post a
bond before the Preliminary Injunction hearing, however, Cortez
reserves the right to seek a bond if the Court should enter a
preliminary injunction, and this Stipulation and/or any resulting
Order from the Court shall not prejudice Cortez’s rights to seek such
a bond, nor prejudice plaintiffs’ rights to seek a zero or nominal

Further, the document specifies, “The conditions and restrictions of
this Stipulation will remain in full force and effect until 3
calendar days after the close of the preliminary injunction hearing,
or January 23, 2009, whichever is earlier.”

The Stipulation provides that “neither plaintiffs, nor any members of
plaintiffs’ organizations shall impair, impede, or otherwise
interfere with the work permitted under this Stipulation. Except for
work expressly authorized by this Stipulation, Cortez shall not
impair, impede, or otherwise interfere with plaintiffs’ and their
members’ access to and use of public land.”

The Stipulation’ s “terms and conditions are without prejudice to the
parties’ respective claims, defenses, positions, and arguments
relative to the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction and
the merits of this case.”

Flynn noted that Western Shoshone working on an arbor at the
ceremonial site on Mt. Tenabo should “not interfere with Cortez’
operations in any way” and “anyone wanting to do a protest”
should “stay by the arbor and the sweat lodge” otherwise “it would
break the agreement.” Flynn emphasized that Shoshone supporters must
not interfere with Cortez equipment or personnel; and while they can
take pictures should not approach Cortez equipment.